What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase: A Study on Absence
Taking as a starting point a collaboration with Grain Photography, HMP Birmingham (the largest, privately run, category B prison in the Midlands, UK), its inmates and, in particular, their relatives, my work uses the social context of incarceration in order to explore the philosophical concept of absence and address a broader consideration of the status of the photograph when questions of visibility, ethics, aestehtics and documentation intersect.
From a humanist perspective the work seeks to reflect on how one deals with the absence of a loved one, brought on by enforced separation.
From an ontological perspective it seeks answers to the following questions: how does one represent a subject that eludes visualization, that is absent or hidden from view? And what does it mean for photography, in an epistemological, ontological, aesthetic and ethical sense, if it does not identify with the referent but the absence of the referent?
Finally, can photography exist outside a relationship with evidence and memory (or indeed, evidence created from memory) and does this invalidate its capacity to document and represent?
The work shifts between image and information, between fiction and evidence, strategically deploying visual and textual details in tandem (based on the artist's correspondence with inmates but largely omitted here) so that the viewer becomes aware of what exists outside the confines of the frame.